A while back I posted an internship position here, and I want to start off by saying that the level of the applicants was extraordinary. It’s incredible how many fantastic young composers are out there!

That being said, after sorting through ~200 applications and having a very long lunch with an audio recruiter friend of mine, there are a few tips that I’d like to mention to benefit folks looking for their first job. I’ll start with the DO’s first:

– DO put your full name in the file name of your resume. If you name your resume “2017_resume_v2”, there’s a chance it’ll get lost in the shuffle.

– DO maintain a certain level of professionalism in your emails. “Hello” works great. “Good afternoon” is also fine. “Yo man” is not a good idea. Yes, that actually happened.

– DO have an easy to read resume. Simple fonts and color schemes work best. If it looks like a unicorn vomited on your resume, you’ve gone too far.

– DO craft a resume appropriate to the position! If someone is hiring an assistant, highlight the parts of you that make a great assistant. In general, composers aren’t looking for other composers – they’re looking for people to make their workflow and overall job easier.

– DO be honest about your skill level. If you list “Sibelius Jedi Master” on your resume but can’t explain to me how to extract parts over the phone… that’s not good. It’s okay to say you’re mediocre at something. Accepting that you have room to grow is a good indicator that you’ll have chops as an assistant.

– DO follow up occasionally if you haven’t heard back. It says a lot about your level of interest, and (to me at least) is interpreted well. Do be careful, however, about spamming. Once every couple of weeks is fine.

– DO spell the name of your contact correctly.

– DO list your references! On a second page is fine. Try not to create extra work by offering to “provide references upon request”.

– DO attach a cover letter, as long as it’s concise and relevant. The cover letter is where you can let your personality shine past your qualifications – it’s more personal than a resume and provides a good opportunity to make yourself stand out. I would advise against sending humorous cover letters unless you REALLY know your audience.

And now for the DON’TS:

– DON’T lie. If you say you worked for a certain composer, there’s a really high probability that I know someone on their team. I always check references, especially when they’re friends of mine because it gives me an opportunity to shoot the breeze.

– DON’T apply to a job that you’re not qualified for. Honestly, this may be a personal one – I understand that a lot of folks try to shotgun applications, and for some folks it works. But if the posting is for a DP/Sibelius job and you only know Cubase/Finale, it’s generally not going to work out.

– DON’T go overboard with name dropping. “I assisted Composer X” is all you need!

“Once I went to Composer X’s Christmas party, where I met Composer Y and then I did ten shots of tequila with Composer Q and we got soooooo turnt” is not appropriate for a job application.

That’s all I’ve got. Would love to hear other perspectives on this!